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Paphos court finds in favour of Church in land dispute

ΔΗΜΟΣΙΟΣ ΚΗΠΟΣ 1

The Paphos district court has found in favour of the Church in a lawsuit in which it accused the municipality and other authorities substantially reducing the value of the public gardens at the town hall by rezoning, and demanded compensation.

Damages from the court decision amount to €7,739,000 plus expenses, according to a spokesman at Paphos municipality.

“In 2010, the Holy Metropolis of Paphos filed a lawsuit against the attorney-general of the Republic, the municipality of Paphos and the council of ministers, claiming damages of €26,125,000 plus interest for a reduction in the economic value of its property, in which the ‘public garden’ is located, due to a change in its urban zoning,” he said.

Following a hearing on Thursday, the Paphos district court decided that the municipal committee in a decision in August 1981 added the section of the public gardens to zone Z1, thus reducing its building coefficient from 160 per cent to 1 per cent, resulting in a substantial reduction in the economic value of the property, the municipality said.

The Court, on the basis of Article 23 of the Constitution that protects the right to property, ordered the Paphos municipality to pay as compensation for the substantial reduction in the value of the property, the value of the property based on the August 1981 valuation, in which it was located before its accession to zone Z1 – €2,050,000, minus its value after inclusion in zone Z1, which was €86.292.

Therefore the final figure, €1,963,708, adjusted for inflation at the time of registration of the lawsuit brought the total to €5,482,672, plus interest from June 2010, plus expenses, plus further interest from the issuance of the decision, plus VAT.

The amount cited by the court was therefore €7,739,000 plus expenses.

“The decision will be considered by the municipality of Paphos in the coming days”, a spokesman said.

The town hall garden is a contentious issue between the Church and the municipality as the latter plans to construct a church there.

Earlier this month, an environmental impact study concerning the proposal was completed and uploaded to Paphos municipality’s website, for public comment.

The project proposed by the Bishop of Paphos split the community with those in favour of the Church’s plans and others bitterly opposed, demanding that it’s kept as a green area or a playground for children.

Paphos municipal council initially rejected a proposal to build a new church in the gardens of the town hall by a majority vote, following a request by Edek councillors, the matter was raised again, and 11 councillors voted in favour.

The disagreement began after the public gardens were returned to the owners, the Church of Cyprus, when a long-term agreement expired in 2005. The Church had rented it to the municipality on a long lease and instead of continuing the agreement, as the municipality had hoped, the Church expressed a desire to build a church on the grounds instead.

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